Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Rogue: Email Addresses Make Me Nervous Now

Hey, guess what? You're not going to believe this, but I haven't beaten Rogue yet.

Okay, so that's pretty much to be expected.  To be honest, I haven't even gotten close.  My best efforts saw me getting down to level 19; in one of those I took one step right into an Umber Hulk and died almost instantly, and in the other I teleported away from an Umber Hulk only to be killed by a Xorn.  None of my tactics really seem to be helping, as I'm not reaching the deeper levels with any sort of consistency.  I'm just as likely to get cornered by Centaurs on level 8 as I am to descend further than level 15, and I really hoped I'd be doing better by this point.

So what I'm going to do with this post is lay out all the things that I've discovered about the game and try to use that to com up with a battle plan.  I'll start with the monsters, especially as they might be significantly different to the ones in the commercial version of Rogue that most of you will have played.  There's not an Emu to be seen here.

  • A is for Giant Ant.  As far as I can tell, they start appearing on dungeon level 3, and stop appearing after level 12.  Giant Ants are among my most hated enemies in the game, as they have a sting that drains a point from your Strength.  It actually doesn't hamper your combat effectiveness on the low and mid-levels, but having a high Strength is almost a necessity when stronger enemies start appearing.  There's a potion that restores your Strength, and I try to keep one to drink as soon as I hit level 13.  There's no point drinking one before that, because you're almost guaranteed to get drained again at some point.
  • B is for Bat.  The weakest enemy in the game, I've encountered them between levels 1 and 8.  They don't attack you directly, but instead just move at random and take the occasional swipe at you.  They're not dangerous unless you're already in some dire straits, but they can be difficult to hit.
  • C is for Centaur.  Centaurs start appearing around level 8, and I've encountered them as low as level 17.  For me, Centaurs have been the first real hurdle in the game.  After you gain some XP most of the monsters you fight will be trivial, until the Centaurs show up.  They hit harder than anything encountered previously, and I've had a lot of ill-equipped characters go down to them.
  • D is for Dragon, I seem to recall.  I haven't encountered one yet.
  • E is for Floating Eye.  These monsters appear between levels 2 and 11, and are completely non-aggressive.  They just sit there motionless, until you attack them.  You don't want to let one near you though, because they have a paralysing attack which can leave you helpless for other monsters.  The best tactic is either to ignore them or kill them with missile weapons.
  • F is for Violet Fungus.  I haven't recorded the levels that I've encountered these on.  Like Floating Eyes they're stationary, but if you move next to one you won't be able to move away.  They don't seem to do a lot of damage, but they do take a lot of hits to kill.  Like the Eyes, they're best killed from a distance.
  • G is for Gnome.  I've encountered these between level 6 and 15, and they're among the easiest enemies in the game.  By the time you meet them they're a trivial nuisance, and you can slaughter them with impunity.
  • H is for Hobgoblin.  The terrors of level 1.  Before you gain extra hit points, Hobgoblins are the enemies you most want to avoid.  They lose their deadliness once you've gained a level or two, but they're definitely the leading cause of death for low-level characters.
  • I is for Invisible Stalker.  Again, I haven't recorded where I've met these, but they don't start showing up until around level 15.  Not that they show up at all, because you can't see them without the right magic ring.  They hit pretty hard too.
  • J is for Jackal.  A fairly easy enemy from the first few dungeon levels.
  • K is for Kobold: Maybe the weakest enemy in the game aside from Bats.  They're the only other monster that's only worth 1 experience point.
  • L is for Leprechaun: These monsters aren't hostile, and if you attack them all they do in retaliation is steal your gold and disappear.  I suppose that's a problem if you're playing for points, but if you're going for the Amulet of Yendor it's no big deal.  I always attack them for the potential experience points.
  • M is for ???  I have no idea yet.
  • N is for Nymph.  Like the Leprechauns they're not hostile, but when you attack them they steal one of your magic items.  They're worth killing though, because they drop items when defeated.  You want to do it with missile weapons though.
  • O is for Orc.  Another fairly weak enemy that appears in the mid-levels.  They've never posed much danger to me.
  • P is for ??? Another one I haven't met yet.
  • Q is for Quasit.  They show up starting around level 10.  They don't do a lot of damage, but they're hard to hit, so they can still pose a danger with repeated blows.
  • R is for Rust Monster. Another hated enemy.  They show up around level 9, and I haven't gotten far enough to figure out when they stop appearing.  Every hit they land on you worsens your armour by 1 point of Armour Class.  This even works on leather armour, which I thought wasn't the case; perhaps it's something that got fixed in a later version.  The only thing to do is take off your armour when you see one, and hope you still have something decent to wear when you hit the lower levels.  Or to just suck it up with an AC of 9 while you keep a good suit of armour in reserve.
  • S is for Snake.  Another of the weaker low-level enemies.  Not venomous, thankfully.
  • T is for Troll.  They start appearing on level 14, and when they do you know things are about to get serious.  They hit hard, and they take quite a few hits to kill. I suspect they regenerate hit points, but there's no way to know for sure.
  • U is for Umber Hulk.  Of the enemies on the deepest levels, these are the ones I remember hating the most.  When they hit you, they cause confusion, which makes you act at random.  Once that happens it's game over, as even the strongest characters will go down to three or four hits from an Umber Hulk.  Best avoided at all costs.
  • V is for Vampire, I think.  I haven't encountered one yet.
  • W is for Wraith.  They aren't too bad, except that sometimes their blows drain your experience points, which lowers your hit points and makes you weaker in general.  You get some, but not all, of these points back when you kill the one that drained you.  Wraiths are best dealt with from a distance.
  • X is for Xorn.  Alongside Umber Hulks, the high-level enemy that usually cooks my goose.  I'm not sure what abilities they have beyond hitting hard and being tough to kill, but that's more than enough.
  • Y is for Yeti.  A mid-level enemy that's reasonably tough, but nothing to get too worried about unless you're already beat up.
  • Z is for Zombie.  Mid-level undead that are usually not much of a problem.

About to be killed by a Xorn.

I'll list out the magic items I've found as well, beginning with the potions.  Whenever I find a potion, I tend to drink it right away so that type will be identified from then on.  There are some detrimental ones, but only one of them is a real inconvenience.

  • Confusion: Makes you confused when you drink it, but doesn't last all that long.
  • Healing.
  • Extra-Healing: I think there are two levels of healing potion but I'm not certain.
  • Haste: Makes you faster but wears off after about a half-dozen moves.
  • Gain Strength: Adds a point to your Strength.  These are best saved for when your Strength is at maximum, or they don't count towards your total when you use the next potion.
  • Restore Strength: Brings your Strength back to whatever it's highest total has been.  Usually that's 16, but the Gain Strength potion can make it higher.
  • Monster Detection: Gives you a screenshot of where all the monsters on the dungeon level are.
  • Blindness: Makes you blind, which is pretty bad.  You can't see your surroundings, and you have no idea what monsters are attacking you.  It lasts for a while too, although it's survivable if you drink one on the early to mid levels.
  • Paralysis: Makes you immobile for a short time, which is normally not a big deal.  I've tried throwing them at monsters, but it doesn't seem to affect them.
  • Magic Detection: Shows you where the magic items on the level are.
  • Poison: Knocks a point off your Strength.
  • Gain Level: You gain an entire experience level, which can be great depending on how much XP you have.  Invariably I drink one when I'm only ten points away from my next level gain, which is pretty annoying.
  • There's one potion that tastes like the juice of whatever fruit you specify in the options menu. I have no idea if there's another effect.
  • The final potion gives you a "strange feeling", but otherwise I have no idea what it does.

Drinking a Potion of Gain Strength

These are the rings I've found.  Rings have some great effects, but a lot of them cause you to get hungry faster when you wear them, so it's a trade-off.  I tend not to put them on until I've identified them.

  • Aggravate Monster: I think this one just makes every monster you meet hostile, but most of them are that way anyway.  I don't know if it makes them stronger at all.
  • Preserve Strength: Makes it so nothing can drain your Strength score.
  • Searching: Makes it easier for you to find traps and secret doors.
  • Blinking: This is a cursed ring that teleports you to a random location on the same level every now and then.  It can be annoying, but it can also be a life-saver.  I'd like to try a run at the deeper dungeon levels while wearing one.
  • See Invisible: Lets you see Invisible Stalkers.
  • Slow Digestion: Makes it so you need a lot less food.  You can actually grind for XP once you find one of these.
  • Increase Damage: I suppose this gives you a bonus to damage dealt, although it could make the monsters do more damage, I have no idea.
  • Dexterity: Increases your Dexterity, although there are cursed versions that do the opposite. Your Dexterity score isn't visible, and I have no idea what it affects.  Trap evasion, maybe?
  • Protection: I'm not sure if this increases your Armour Class or reduces monster damage, but either way it makes you harder to kill.
  • Strength: Grants a Strength bonus. I don't know if it can take you over a score of 18.

Scrolls are next.  I tend not to read scrolls until I have an item that's worth identifying, because I don't want to risk wasting a Scroll of Identify.

  • Identify: Tells you what a magic item is.  Maybe one of the most important items in the game.
  • Light: A one-use item that lights up a dark room.  Not all that helpful.
  • Enchant Weapon: Grants a +1 bonus to your weapon's damage or ability to land a hit.
  • Teleport: Takes you to a random spot on the same dungeon level, which can be a very handy method of escape.
  • Remove Curse: Lets you remove any cursed items that you're wearing.
  • Confusion: Makes your hands glow red. The next blow that you strike will confuse that enemy.  I'd love, just once, to land one of these on an Umber Hulk.
  • Mapping: Reveals the entire map of the level you're on.
  • Enchant Armor: Gives  a +1 AC bonus to the armour you're wearing.
  • Detect Gold: Shows you where the gold on the level is.
  • Sleep: Puts you to sleep for a short time.
  • Summon Monster: A random monster appears next to you, although I think it limits it to monsters that can actually show up on that level.  At least I think so, because I haven't summoned a Dragon by accident.
  • Blank: I read a scroll that was completely blank once, not sure what that's about.
  • There are scrolls that, when I read them, make me hear a maniacal laughter in the distance.
  • Another type of scroll makes a humming noise.
  • There's a scroll that makes me feel a pull downwards.  I haven't figured out any of the last three.

Casting an Enchant Weapon scroll

Finally, the staves and wands.  I'll give them a test zap when I find one, on the off chance that I can identify it.  If not, I'll try to test it on a weak enemy.  It wastes charges, but it saves on Identify Scrolls.

  • Haste Monster: Makes a monster move faster.  Not good.
  • Light: Lights up the room you're in.  One of these with a lot of charges is really handy on the lower levels, so that you can see the monsters coming.
  • Striking: Deals damage to a monster at close range.
  • Lightning: Damages monsters at range, and rebounds off walls.  I'm reluctant to use these, because I've been caught in an infinite loop of lightning rebounds that made the game hang.
  • Slow Monster: Good for running away, because normally the monsters move at the same rate as you do.
  • Magic Missile: A ranged attack that doesn't do a lot of damage.
  • Polymorph: Transforms a monster into another kind of monster.  Can be great, but can also get you into all sorts of trouble.
  • There's also an attack staff that causes tingling when I use it.  I'm not sure what this is.

So that's the extent of what I've discovered about the game.  Looking over it, I think I've come up with a list of things that I need to survive on the lower levels.  Good armour is almost a necessity, as is a good weapon: a two-handed sword kills enemies much faster than any other kind of weapon.  A Gain Strength potion is needed, to restore any losses incurred by Giant Ants, or a Ring of Preserve Strength.  Healing potions are also handy, but it can be hard to build up a big store of them.  A Ring of Slow Digestion is an absolute must, as it gives you the luxury to linger on the mid-levels and build up your XP.  I suppose I could also hang about if I happen to have a run where I have over ten meals, which happened to me once. Finally, I think I need a bunch of items to help avoid the toughest monsters: scrolls of teleport, wands of light, and wands of polymorph are all handy for that.  Plus, of course, a few scrolls of Identify so I know what I'm carrying.

Potions of healing, a +3 mace, several options for fleeing and a
Ring of See Invisible; this is a pretty good load-out

The smart thing would be for me to keep playing the early dungeon levels, and starting over if my character hasn't put together a few of the items above.  It would probably save me some time, for sure.  I'm not going to do that just yet, because I'm still having fun just playing the game.  Eventually, though, I think I'll have to do it in the interests of making some progress on the blog.  I know I spent a year on Moria and The Game of Dungeons, but I don't want a repeat of those experiences.

And now, finally, I present to you my litany of failures, with a roll call of the adventurers who have perished in the Dungeons of Doom.

  • Kejakena got killed on level 13 by a Troll.
  • Nobody VI was killed on level 3 by a Giant Ant, which is a pretty unusual way to go.
  • Jack Manley made it all the way to level 18 before meeting a Xorn and getting pummeled to death.  As with all Jack Manley appearances on this blog, this is strictly non-canon as far as my novels are concerned.
  • Nobody VII was paralysed by a Floating Eye, which caused the game to hang.
  • Sparhawk was softened up by a procession of Centaurs and Quasits, and finally succumbed to a Zombie on level 7.
  • Robilar had a two-handed sword and two Rings of Increase Damage, but that didn't stop a Troll on level 14 from eating him.
  • Nobody VIII and Nobody IX both got killed by Hobgoblins on level 1 of the dungeon.  The curse of the Nobody family strikes again.
  • Mordenkainen got cornered between two Centaurs on level 8.
  • Nobody X became a credit to his ancestors by making it all the way down to level 19 before being confused and killed by an Umber Hulk.  His many descendants will come to avenge him.
  • Tenser got cornered between two Centaurs on level 12, a common fate for characters with names taken from the original Greyhawk campaign it seems.
  • Kael got cornered between two Centaurs.  It was a good day for the Centaurs, that's for sure.
  • Nobody XI failed to avenge his father by getting killed by a Hobgoblin on level 1.
  • Nobb died on level 14 because I held down the space bar to search for a secret door at the end of a tunnel.  I found one, but the Centaur behind it got a load of free hits and killed me.
  • Nobody XII was killed by a Zombie on level 8.
  • Nobody XIII was killed by a Centaur on level 8.
  • Bain got to level 19 with the inventory you see above, and a Strength of 18.  I was pretty hopeful, but it went wrong when I got confused by an Umber Hulk. I teleported away to escape, but while I was waiting out the confusion I was cornered by a Xorn.  You can still use items when confused, so I tried to last with healing potions until I could fight back, but it wasn't enough.

That's been 30 characters so far, with little signs of improvement.  Six of those deaths were on level 1, and six were on level 8: that ramp-up in difficulty that comes with the Centaurs has taken its toll.  After that, levels 14 and 16 have killed three adventurers each, levels 12 and 19 have claimed two, and a whole bunch of levels have claimed one.

It was worth a shot.

I'll definitely keep plugging away at Rogue, but I don't intend to make that the sole focus of the blog.  There's good news on the Futurewar front, as the creator answered my message and has fixed the bug that was stopping me from descending.  I don't want to play two long-running CRPGs with perma-death at the same time though, so I'm putting that on hold until I beat Rogue.  That makes my next game Space II, the sequel to sci-fi RPG/trading sim Space.  That should be a short one, and I'll probably have a post on it up by Sunday.  I've also got a post lined up for the TRS-80 version of Temple of Apshai, so never fear: the content will keep on flowing.


  1. A commenter on CRPG Addict mentioned that while confused, you can still throw stuff in the correct direction. In fact, you can do anything except move/attack. Wish I had known that earlier, before I (not completely fairly) beat Rogue. Umber Hulks killed me so many times it isn't funny.

    Item identification spoilers ahoy:

    Gur sehvg whvpr syniberq cbgvba vf n "frr vaivfvoyr" cbgvba. Zl irefvba (3.6.3 QWTCC) qvqa'g unir nal "fgenatr srryvat" cbgvbaf, ohg qvq unir "guvefg dhrapuvat" cbgvbaf gung qba'g qb nalguvat.

    Evat bs frnepuvat znxrf lbh cresbez n serr frnepu npgvba rnpu gvzr lbh zbir. Ohg lbh pbafhzr 33% zber sbbq. Vapernfr qnzntr znxrf lbh qb rkgen zryrr qnzntr. Evatf bs qrkgrevgl fvzcyl vapernfr lbhe punaprf bs uvggvat va zryrr, naq qb abguvat ryfr. Evatf bs cebgrpgvba ybjre/envfr lbhe punapr bs trggvat uvg va zryrr.

    Oynax fpebyyf qb abguvat. "Znavnpny ynhtugre" fpebyyf znxr lbh vaihyarenoyr... vs lbh qebc gurz ba gur sybbe vafgrnq bs ernqvat gurz. Uhzzvat fpebyyf ntteningr nyy zbafgref. "Chyy qbjajneq" zrnaf lbh jnfgrq n tbyq qrgrpgvba fpebyy.

    Gur gvatyvat fgnss pnfgf Qenva Yvsr, juvpu qnzntrf nyy zbafgref va gur ebbz ng gur pbfg bs unys lbhe erznvavat UC.

    1. I did figure out that you can still do loads of stuff while confused, which is why I was drinking potions to try and outlast that Xorn. Throwing items might have worked, but I doubt they'd do enough damaged to worry Xorns and Umber Hulks.

      Thanks for the hints, I need all the help I can get with this game! Can you attack while standing on a maniacal laughter scroll? That sounds like a great way to grand for XP.

    2. You certainly can!

      Umber Hulks have 8d8 HP. Daggers and spears can be thrown for 1d6 and 1d8 points of damage, respectively. Launched rocks do 1d4, launched arrows do 1d6, and launched bolts do 1d10. But you've got to equip the appropriate weapon, or else you just throw them and they do crap damage. Weapon bonuses from the launcher and ammo will stack. Damage is also modified by your strength, up to +6 points, which applies even to launched crossbow bolts.

    3. I tend to just get rid of bows and throw my arrows by hand. I guess that's a bad move.

  2. At least traditionally, if not in this version of Rogue, xorns can tunnel through walls.

    1. In D&D, yes - although I think they sort of phase through rather than tunneling? I don't think I've seen one pass through a wall in Rogue though.